Friday, June 15, 2007

Not the Oz I know

I finally got the book Wicked. It had caught my attention when I was in Kinokuniya, the big bookstore in Shinjuku with an entire floor dedicated to English books (this is big in Japan). I thumbed through it, and was meandering to the checkout line, when I saw the price tag: 2500 yen! It was apparently 7.5 UK pounds, which, with import taxes and stuff, made the book not quite worth it. Suddenly I am quite glad we're not being transferred to London, which was a possibility.

But the musical is now coming to Japan, and there are posters of the book's cover art everywhere on the subways, so I finally got a copy out of curiosity. It's good! and delicious! I love the clever, cynical Elphaba (wicked witch of the West) and her witty repartes with her friend Glinda.

Unfortunately, it's also kind of scary. In the book Wicked, Oz is having a severe drought, making it look dryer than kansas. The Wizard of Oz is a tyrant who is systematically marginalizing the populations and creating a hitler-esque regime.
Also, there are eyes-wide-shut style orgy scenes.

As an Oz fan when I was a kid, I have to say in a meek voice, I'm a little traumatized! It's not the Oz I know. My great-grandmother left me the original books published from 1904-1930, and I loved them as a kid. Well, more specifically, I really loved the fabulous illustrations done by John R. Neill.

The wizard of Oz, and most of the Oz books, have fallen out of copyright and into the public domain, so they're available as free ebooks. (yay free!) And yeah, definitely no sign of concentration camps in the kids book.

But I did find this gem, taken from The Marvelous Land of Oz:

"What does that word 'fool' mean?" enquired the horse.
"It is a term of reproach," answered Tip, somewhat ashamed of the expression. "I only use it when I am angry."
"Then it pleases me to be able to call you a fool, in return," said the horse. "For I did not make the river, nor put it in our way; so only a term of, reproach is fit for one who becomes angry with me for falling into the water."
"That is quite evident," replied Tip; "so I will acknowledge myself in the wrong."

hee hee!
If ten year old boys actually said that in 1904, could I just somehow get in a time machine? It's a way better response than what would actually be said today, ie
"dude, it's not my fault!"
"yah, my bad."

Anyways, back to my book. And don't look at me like that, yes, I know I'm supposed to be packing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The musical is VERY loosely based on the book - you'll find them to be wildly different.

Dislike the book, LOVE the musical.

"So if you care to find me, look to the Western sky! As someone told me lately, everyone deserves the chance to fly!"


1:13 AM  
Blogger Kyra said...

Thanks, good to know!
I'll be sure to see it then... on

4:03 AM  

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